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Widow of avalanche victim sues Golden lodge operator

A woman from Alberta is suing guides, their mountain guide association and the lodge operator for negligence

The widow of an Alberta man who died in an avalanche near Golden, is suing the guides, their mountain guide association and the lodge operator for negligence.

Douglas and Sheila Churchill were among 13 people skiing in the backcountry, about 50 kilometres northwest of Golden, when a large avalanche struck in February 2016.

Douglas Churchill, 64, was one of five people who were completely buried, and others in the party dug him out.

RELATED: Airlifted to Calgary after Golden-area avalanche

He was taken to a local hospital before being airlifted to Calgary, where he died three days later.

Five others were partially burried in the slide, including his wife, Sheila Churchill.

A civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday says she suffered significant injuries in the avalanche, including a broken leg, and has ongoing limited function in her right knee.

The notice of claim alleges the lodge operator, Golden Alpine Holiday Inc., one employee, two guides and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides ignored avalanche predictions, failed to communicate avalanche predictions to the group and failed to exercise reasonable care.

“By reason of negligence, criminal negligence, breaches of fiduciary duties and their breaches of contract of the defendants, Sheila Churchill, in her personal capacity as administrator of Doug Churchill’s estate, has sustained injuries and suffered irrevocable loss and damage,” the suit alleges.

RELATED: Avalanche triggered near Lanark Snowshed

None of the allegations has been proven in court and the defendants have not filed a statement of defence in the action.

Sheila Churchill is seeking an unspecified amount in general damages, special damages and costs.

Golden Alpine Holiday, the employee and the guides were no immediately available for comment. The Association of Canadian Mountain Guides declined comment because the case is now before the courts.

Golden Alpine Holiday’s owner John Bell told media soon after the avalanche that the group was on a self-guided tour.

“We are very forthright about any avalanche warnings and in fact as soon as the special advisory came out, we were very proactive in issuing that,” Bell told Global News.

The Canadian Press

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